Who? That is the response to my statement, ‘We are going to Toronto to see Dead Can Dance’. Watch this clip and you may not know more about who they are but you will have a better idea as to what they do.
When we heard that the band Dead Can Dance was getting back together and embarking on a world tour it was a forgone conclusion that we were going to one of the concerts. It was just a matter of how far we would have to travel to take it in. For a long time we have lamented the fact that we had missed seeing them play when the band was together in the mid 1990’s. The concert lives up to the anticipated wait.
One of the first things I notice has nothing to do with the band whatsoever. It is the audience. I have been to concerts in quite a few different cities and the audience reactions are quite different. In Edmonton the audience for the most part sits and watches the performance, in both Calgary and Vancouver, you pay for a seat but you spend the entire show standing. Being from Edmonton I do not understand or appreciate having to stand but as they say, ‘When in Rome.’ I am delighted to note that in Toronto the audience remains seated to enjoy the music. The one thing that is annoying is people are still finding their seats 20 or 25 minutes into the performance. I think arriving late does not show the proper respect to the performers. Except for a few weird comments like ‘I love you Lisa’ the audience was extremely polite.
The sound guys did their job. We sit quite close to the stage (9 rows back) and it is reasonably loud for the genre of music but it is very clear and discernible. I do have trouble understanding the words to the songs sung in English by Lisa Gerrard. For the most part this doesn’t matter because most of the songs are not in English so the vocals are just sounds that blend into the entire scape of the song.
I notice something that listening to the band on CD has alerted me to but it was actualized by seeing them live. The music Dead Can Dance plays is a compilation of many layers of sound. Each band member plays a repetitive part and each part is inserted into the composition. Each layer is interesting in itself but together the result is mesmerizing.
As expected with a world class band the musicians are impeccable. The two percussionists that play such an integral part in this band are flawless. They provide a backdrop of sound for the others to work around. The two key board players do double duty as back up singers. The key boards add a plethora of sounds that would normally require several other musicians as well as the more expected piano and organ pieces. The lady (sorry I did not get the names of the back up crew) has a voice that most lead singers would die for and her role is to enhance the vocals of Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry.
I have never really understood the use of the light show part of concerts. Most of the time the lights have little to do with the music, run off in their own direction and are more of a distraction than anything else. The lights at this concert do change but I find they enhance the performance rather than distract from it. The lighting is not very active but more of a stage set providing a backdrop and scenery with which the music interacts with rather than competes for the attention of the audience.
The playlist is a mix of the songs newly crafted for this tour and some of the old songs with which the audience was more familiar. The new music is good but did not touch the nerve that the older ones did. The first few notes played of a familiar piece and shivers would run through the body in expectation of what is to come. The songs are picture perfect and everyone in the audience sits perfectly still until each piece is played out.
At most concerts by the time the band has played for an hour or an hour fifteen I have seen enough and it is time to leave. Dead Can Dance plays for one and a half hours straight, and comes back for 3 encores, they play for 2 hours and I am still willing to listen to more.
It’s been a long time coming but it was worth the long distance trip to watch a concert that we never expect to see. I’d do it again at the drop of a hat.